Working out became a trend back in the 1970s. Much to my surprise, it has lasted 30 years. But I said years ago that it's a dangerous waste of time. The bottom line is, people have been conned into a drastic change in lifestyle that is dangerous to their health and longevity-all for the promise of a smaller waistline. The ironic part is that they're not any thinner for it. In fact, they're fatter.
But it seems that people are finally becoming disillusioned with the exercise craze and its promise of health, fitness, and, above all, thinness. As I warned them 20 years ago, it doesn't work. "Some of the biggest names in the fitness and weight-loss industries are struggling to sign up members, and sales of home exercise equipment are sliding despite the obesity epidemic," reports Reuters Health.
In October 2003, Nautilus Group Inc. said it was planning to cut jobs after a steep drop in quarterly sales. Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., owner of 420 health clubs, cited similar problems when it reported a 58 percent drop in quarterly profit.
Bad advice like the "run for your life" campaign can only fool people for a certain period of time. Now, mind-body "workouts" like Pilates and yoga have taken over the knee-pounding jogging and other cardiovascular activities. I hate to tell the yoga/Pilates aficionados, but these won't work either.
The truth is physical fitness is irrelevant to health and exercise doesn't work for weight reduction.
Fitness doesn't always equal health
Harvey Lauer, president of American Sports Data Inc., a health and fitness research firm, blames the pleasure principle: "80 percent of people believe in physical fitness, but only 20 percent are regular exercisers." Well, Harvey, your company has it all wrong; your research is bogus, and that's why you will ultimately fail-and good riddance.
What people don't understand is that "fitness" and "health" are not exactly the same thing. Fitness is the ability to sustain some form of exercise for a certain period of time. So if you can run a mile in less time than you did last year, technically, you are more fit. But that doesn't necessarily mean you're any healthier--especially if you're still following the carb-heavy food pyramid recommended by most of the exercise fanatics. In fact, some of the "fittest" carb-loading marathon runners end up dropping dead of heart attacks long before some of their more sedentary, meat-eating peers.
So, you see, you can jog, bike, swim, or jazzercise till the cows come home, but there's only one solution for losing weight and being healthy--change the way you eat and eliminate sugar and starch.
Food fads are just as bad as fitness trends
But it's important not to fall for any of those food fads either. They're just as bad as the so-called "fitness experts," and they're also falling short. Take, for example, the granddaddy of the fat mongers, Weight Watchers International Inc. They've cut their 2003 earnings outlook and are desperate to fatten sales.
So they have a slick new gimmick they think will bulk up their bottom line-- "FlexPoints." It's nothing new, just another way to count calories by endorsing the disproved exercise-weight paradigm: "Earn Activity POINTS(r) by exercising and you can swap them for food." Appealing to the something-for-nothing desire that is in most of us, they declare: "You can eat the foods you love as long as you hit your POINTS(r) Target." This blurb is situated next to a picture of chocolate brownies and pancakes with strawberry topping. This campaign will probably cause an initial surge in business, but it will swiftly fade as their customers catch on to the inanity of the whole thing.
Actions to take:
(1) If you are pumping iron, running five miles a day on a treadmill, or climbing countless flights on a stairmaster because you expect to lose weight, you will be disappointed. The only real way to lose weight and keep it off is to adopt a low (close-to-zero) carbohydrate, high animal-fat, animal-protein diet.
(2) For a good perspective on the entire subject of exercise and health, read The Exercise Myth by Henry A. Solomon, M.D. Although this book is out of print, it is available in limited quantities from amazon.com.
"Obesity rise not fattening fitness firms," Reuters Health News (www.reuters.com), 11/1/03